Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Anecdotes, Kamchatka or Candlemass: Just this small selection of bands, with whom Per Wiberg has already worked as a keyboarder, doesn't read badly. The multi-instrumentalist only lacked a real solo album in his vita. In an interview, the 50-year-old Swede offers interesting insights into his creative cosmos and also let his band King Hobo, whose review can be found further back in the magazine, elicit a few words about their new album.
eclipsed: Per, you have so many interesting bands and projects going on, why a solo album?
Per Wiberg: My musical interests are much more diverse than what I have been able to realize so far. So it would have been quite unnecessary if I had basically followed a similar style on my solo album now. But I had no preconceived plan when I wrote these songs. To share my feelings and to see what I can still achieve musically was my goal. I wanted to explore different genres and play different instruments. If you do not exceed your limits and step out of your comfort zone, you will stagnate. As a person and as an artist.
eclipsed: You definitely hear the album that it was composed on the keyboard.
Wiberg: Much of the music I played all my life was based on guitar riffs. In all bands the guitar was or is the absolutely dominant instrument. And that's why most of the time I composed like this: with a guitar on my sofa. And although the keys are basically my main instrument, it felt a bit strange to compose in this way. But now I could articulate feelings, atmosphere and vibrations much better.
eclipsed: You definitely think more of a songwriter than a keyboarder.
Wiberg: Maybe that's even the ultimate compliment you can give me. Sure, I also enjoy playing fast sometimes. But that's not what matters at the end of the day. Of course there are some genres where something like this is definitely in demand and then belongs to a good song. I like solos when there is a kind of interaction between the musicians. In this respect, I especially love the Miles Davis albums of the late sixties or early seventies. They all play like crazy, but nevertheless you always have the feeling that they are in dialogue with each other. In rock music, on the other hand, I seek above all strength and energy. One must not make the mistake of projecting the same claims onto different styles. Because then you're often disappointed.
eclipsed: The album has a very dark mood.
Wiberg: I would describe it neutrally as "cinematic" for now. Because such a perception is of course first of all very individual. I feel, for example, that early blues music is just as gloomy as the avant-garde approaches of an Amanda Galãs.
eclipsed: You also had to write lyrics. With your other bands this role is usually taken over by someone else. Is that hard for you?
Wiberg: It's not easy for me, but it's fun. I see myself more as an entertainer than as a philosopher. I am writing here about universal human issues like death or loss and there probably every person can do something with it. But you don't necessarily have to deal with my texts more deeply either. At the end of the day it's "just" a rock album and not a documentary.
eclipsed: What is the idea behind the album title "Head Without Eyes"?
Wiberg: The title is inspired by data protection. When newspapers report about perpetrators and victims of crimes and violent crimes, these people are depicted with a black bar in front of their eyes. I always have a certain picture of what these people look like. But the visualization in my head often does not correspond to reality. That shows how important the eyes are. A person's gaze says a lot, if not everything, about the person in question. My album goes deeper into this perception.
eclipsed: You've also taken over the post of singer.
Wiberg: I used to sing in a lot of bands. In recent years, however, I have concentrated mainly on playing instruments. And since this album was designed for a kind of one-man band, I thought it was cool to sing to myself again.
eclipsed: Will we be able to experience the songs live?
Wiberg: Yes, I would like that, of course. But I'm not following a preconceived plan. I'll just let it come to me. In Sweden I will give a few concerts in honour of "Head Without Eyes", but nothing else is planned. But a world tour is unlikely to happen. (laughs) Making this record alone gave me a lot of pleasure. Anything beyond that would be a nice bonus.
eclipsed: So a complete focus on a career as a solo artist is not in sight?
Wiberg: Yes and no. Actually, I'm thinking about presenting a second album next year in any case. I am proud of my work because I have crossed my boundaries and tried some new things. At the same time I don't want to miss life as a band member. A tour with band members is just too much fun. I really like the camaraderie you build up with other musicians in the tour bus.
eclipsed: Also these days the second album of King Hobo will be released. There you follow a completely different approach with clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Kamchatka guitarist Thomas Andersson.
Wiberg: We recorded the album just like the first one: live in the rehearsal room. It's a pretty liberating process compared to how most albums are recorded these days. We set up our gear in a circle and turn it up full. We jam all day and record directly on location. It feels like a real gig then, and we don't have to worry how it will sound live, because it's live in the original!
eclipsed: You come from Borlänge, a rather rural small town in central Sweden. From this city come bands like Mando Diao, Stonewall Noise Orchestra, Astral Doors, Dozer or Green Leaf. Is it just the good air and the drinking water, or how do you explain this accumulation?
Wiberg: There is probably no single reason, but long before the rock era this region was a centre for traditional Swedish folk music. So music has always been an important characteristic of the city. When I started with music, there were also instruments everywhere in the youth scene that you could simply use. You could learn without paying for it. You could try yourself out casually. No pressure, no financial restrictions. That's a very positive thing
* * * Mike Borrink